One of the biggest concerns for my clients is the impact a DUI conviction will have on their criminal record. Fortunately for my clients and anyone else convicted of a California DUI, California Penal Code section 1203.4 allows a person to have their conviction “expunged.”
California Penal Code section 1203.4 provides, “In any case in which a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation…or in any case in which a court, in its discretion and the interest of justice, determines that a defendant should be granted relief under this section, the defendant shall…be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; of, if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and, in either case, the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusations or information against the defendant and…he or she shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she has been convicted…”
Unlike what most people think, an expungement doesn’t actually erase the conviction from a person’s criminal record.
If you can decipher the language of Penal Code section 1203.4, what it actually says is that a person can withdraw their plea of guilty or no contest and enter a plea of not guilty. Or if a person was found guilty after trial, the court “sets aside” the guilty verdict. The court then “dismisses” the charges as if the person was never convicted.
This is, of course, after the successful completion of probation and probation terms.
If the expungement petition is successful, the record will still show that the person was arrested and charged with a DUI. However, for all intents and purposes, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the record shows that the conviction was dismissed.
When an application asks if the person has been convicted of a crime, they can check the little box that indicates “no.” Why? Because they “weren’t convicted.”
Employers cannot ask about the conviction. Nor can employers use the arrest or charges as a reason not to hire the person. Why? Because they “weren’t convicted.”
The caveat to these benefits, however, is that the original conviction must be disclosed when applying for a state license, public office, or for contracting with the state lottery. Having said that, after disclosing the original conviction, they can then say that the conviction was dismissed under Penal Code section 1203.4.